Fairport veteran on Afghanistan: ‘I was there when the first flag went up in our embassy in Kabul’

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FAIRPORT, N.Y. (WHEC) — The Biden administration Tuesday night is being pushed to accelerate the evacuations of Americans and Afghan allies.

The government is also conceding that American military equipment is now lost to the Taliban.

News10NBC spoke with a local veteran who served in Afghanistan and his reaction is familiar.

Marine veteran Joe Chenelly was part of the initial force that went into Afghanistan.

"It’s been really rough to watch," Chenelly said.

He says seeing the scenes of chaos, at places he knew well, like the Kabul airport leave veterans like him, "Numb seems to be the word many use," Chenelly said. "There is certainly anger."

Afghanistan veterans who’ve spoken to News10NBC say they are "wrestling" with the images they’re seeing after putting in several years of work there.

Some admit to now second-guessing themselves and wondering what they could have done better.

Chenelly, who’s executive director of the veterans’ group, AMVETS, says there have already been some painful conversations for veterans like him.

"I was there when the first flag went up in our embassy in Kabul and, to see that embassy now vacant and pretty much everything having fallen back into the hands of the Taliban, it’s very disheartening," Chenelly said.

Veterans are also keeping up their push to get their Afghan friends safely away from possible reprisals by the Taliban.

They say they’re concerned advisors, liaisons and translators who worked with U.S. forces could be targeted, and they fear if the U.S. cant keep them safe, our nation will lose the faith of local people anywhere whose help we might need in the future.

"To be honest, at this point, it’s going to be really difficult to put the toothpaste back in the tube," Chenelly said.

"The trust is, it has to be broken at this point," Chenelly said. "Heaven forbid we have to get into another engagement there in Afghanistan, or elsewhere… Are we going to be able to count on local population to be able to support us?"

The Biden administration believes they can safely evacuate civilians until Aug. 31.

Senior White House officials did not commit to evacuations after that date.

The Biden administration has also promised to expedite visas for Afghans who worked for the U.S. military, but tens of thousands are still waiting.